NHL Rumours: Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild

NHL Rumours

Hello and welcome to a regular Sunday edition of NHL Rumours! Are you tired of trade banter yet? Well, too bad! Trades are the hot topics with the deadline less than 48 hours away. Check the Last Word on Hockey frequently as news drops for the fastest updates on what is happening around the league. Today’s NHL rumours are a doozy and feature the Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers and Minnesota Wild.

NHL Rumours

Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumour: This weeks’ 31 thoughts from Elliotte Friedman indicated that Jamie Oleksiak could be a depth option for the Leafs.

Analysis: Oleksiak doesn’t jump out as a strong option, but he would be fine on Toronto’s blue line. He has a respectable 50.8 percent Corsi For is fine for a player with roughly even offensive/defensive zone starts. His -1.7 relative Corsi in shorthanded situations would be third among current Leafs who average at least a minute with the disadvantage.

Toronto could certainly use another defender to rotate on its third pairing. They do have two left-handed shots available already with Travis Dermott and Martin Marincin, but Oleksiak looks just as strong or stronger than either of those two. The team has avoided dipping into its prospect depth in 2020-21 and Oleksiak helps them continue that trend unless multiple injuries strike in the final weeks. Finally, his cap hit of $2.137 million and pending free agency does nothing to prevent further moves.

Oleksiak could also return at least one quality piece for the Dallas Stars. He may not be worth a first-round pick, but the Leafs have plenty of assets to spend. Several forwards and defencemen could all be trade chips for a team that is ready to win a Stanley Cup right now and will spare no expense to make that happen.

Colorado Avalanche

Rumour: Saturday night’s Headlines segment indicates that Colorado may be interested in one more acquisition in the form of Mattias Janmark.

Analysis: Colorado doesn’t need Janmark, but neither does the Chicago Blackhawks. The Central Division team has fallen behind in the playoff race and recently returned young centre Kirby Dach to the active roster. That combination of factors might squeeze Janmark out of the picture as he approaches free agency this summer. He could be a smart addition for a white-hot Colorado team.

That is because while the 28-year-old Swede isn’t a superlative scoring option, he does have some intriguing history from his time with Dallas. This is a skater who posted 15 or more goals in his first two seasons. He might cross that threshold this year as well despite Chicago’s lacklustre supporting depth. It’s not hard to imagine Janmark with a strong end to the year playing next to Valeri Nichushkin or Joonas Donskoi.

He also shouldn’t be particularly expensive for Colorado. The Avs may not have much draft capital left to spend after recent trades, but they still have picks to use in both the 2021 and 2022 drafts. This is a team that acquired Brandon Saad for a defenceman and AHL centre. Janmark won’t be nearly that expensive and has a very high ceiling in Colorado’s system.

Florida Panthers

Rumour: Saturday’s Headlines also revealed that Florida is the leading option to sign former New Jersey Devils forward Nikita Gusev.

Analysis: Gusev as a Panther feels like a very strong combination. The Russian skater has had a rough 2020-21 so far, but this is a player who scored 13 goals and 44 points in 66 games last year. He also has great possession stats, so his struggles can be attributed to New Jersey’s general lack of talent as it rebuilds. Gusev is a quality top-six wing.

The Panthers could immediately start Gusev on either the first or second lines. One combination would play him next to Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe. The other might include Jonathan Huberdeau and Patric Hornqvist. Both of those trios would be very strong as Florida positions itself for a postseason run.

The team also has enough money to sign Gusev without it hamstringing them on future moves. Their current projected cap space is $2.7 million. Gusev’s previous cap hit with New Jersey was $4.5 million, but that will probably decrease with the chance to compete for a Stanley Cup.

Minnesota Wild

Rumour: The final rumour for tonight also comes from an extensive headlines segment. It indicated that Minnesota could acquire Nick Foligno before the deadline.

Analysis: The elder Foligno would be a strong addition to the Wild’s roster. He has seven goals and 16 points in 42 games. He also has 109 hits, 35 blocks, and a 47.1 percent faceoff win rate. That level of all-around production is something Minnesota would love to have as the postseason approaches. The faceoffs are especially key as the Wild have just one skater with a higher win rate over as many attempts as Foligno.

Minnesota has plenty to spend if they want to bring the Foligno brothers together. The Columbus Blue Jackets may seek a first-round pick, but the Wild have two in the 2021 Draft thanks to the trade that sent Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins. A team wouldn’t ordinarily give up a first-round pick for a bottom-six skater in his early-30s, but the Wild have exceeded expectations this year. They also have several very exciting prospects on the way including Matthew Boldy and Marco Rossi. They can afford to splurge.

This trade would also allow Columbus to experiment more with its roster. They do have some intriguing young skaters but need far more than what they have. A return of either a first-round pick or prospect would improve the speed of a rebuild and put the Jackets in a position to compete more fully in 2021-22.

That does it for this edition of NHL Rumours. Stay tuned for another edition on Monday.

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